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SDK update for OpenCL maximises FPGA performance

09 May 2013  | Stephen Evanczuk

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Altera has recently announced the availability of the SDK for OpenCL. The company's latest offering allows software programmers to easily offload compute-intensive functions to FPGA hardware. With SDK for OpenCL, software developers combine their standard C code with functions written in OpenCL C that run through the OpenCL compiler. The compiler translates the OpenCL C device code into a hardware configuration file, which the loader loads onto the FPGA.

 OpenCL C functions

Figure 1: Software developers write OpenCL C functions, which are translated into kernel programs running on the target FPGA hardware.

 Altera SDK

Figure 2: The Altera SDK for OpenCL compiler generates an FPGA hardware configuration file that is loaded onto the FPGA.

 structures

Figure 3: Specialised FGPA interconnect structures are designed to connect efficiently to external PCIe and DDR interfaces as well as on-chip RAM.

The Altera SDK for OpenCL includes a compiler, loader, and a host runtime, which provides host a platform API and runtime API. The runtime API includes a static library that provides OpenCL host APIs and a dynamic library that provides the low-level interface to the FPGA via the PCIe bus interface.

A significant challenge in this type of design typically lies in ensuring maximum throughput between the host and acceleration hardware. The Altera toolset builds on specialised interconnect structures designed to ensure maximum throughput via high-speed external interfaces such as PCIe and DDR and with on-chip RAM. Besides adding IP and other logic, the Altera SDK for OpenCL handles timing closure, place and route, and partitioning transparently for the developer.

Altera's SDK for OpenCL can be downloaded here. The annual software subscription for the SDK for OpenCL is $995 for a node-locked PC license.




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